Swedish pastor appeals hate-crime conviction for antigay sermon

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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Stockholm — A Swedish pastor, whose sermon against homosexuality led to a hate-crime conviction, presented his appeal to the court yesterday. The district court had previously found him guilty of "aiming to disregard homosexuals as a group" and sentenced him to one month's imprisonment.

Åke Green, 63, denies that he intended to agitate against homosexuals. "I've only enlightened people about what the Bible has to say," he said. The legal defence has focused on freedom of religion. Green's lawyer, Percy Bratt, has argued that fundamental human rights are at stake and that Green must be allowed to interpret the Bible without interference from secular authorities. The prosecutor, Kjell Yngvesson, argues that Green crossed the line when he went from merely quoting the bible to "gathering everything from the Bible that condemns homosexuality" and added his own opinions.

In his sermon, which was also distributed in writing, Green argued that homosexuality wasn't "an inborn desire" but "people in the hands of evil powers." The district court referred to four specific issues in its finding:

1) Green had argued that the global AIDS epidemic wouldn't have occurred without homosexuality.
2) He made a connection between sex with animals and homosexuality. (By citing passages from the Bible where both activities are condemned in sequence and arguing that when people "abandon God", some will indulge in this sin as well.)
3) He made a conncection between pedophilia and homosexuality.(By arguing that a permissive attitude towards homosexuality would "open the gate to forbidden areas and let Sin take root in consciousness." Thus also leading to other sins like pedophilia or bestiality.)
4) He used the phrase "freely I leave purity and accept impurity" with reference to (among other sins) homosexuality.